Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Calorie Cutting Tips

Since I have been using My Fitness Pal, and logging every calorie that enters my body, I have been learning a few things. Or maybe remembering a few things that I knew before. These things may not be new to you, but some things bear repeating. I know I often need to be hit over the head with information before it sinks in.

There is no room in a weight loss diet for empty calories. Duh, right? But if you catalogue every single morsel that hops into your mouth, you might be surprised to find a few empty ones in there. Yes, they probably taste good. And I am never one to dismiss good taste out of hand. I think the real trick is discovering combinations of healthy foods that you enjoy while ditching the extra calories. Here are some examples of foods which you might want to toss out on their respective ears:

1) Mayonnaise. Sorry, I LOVE this food, but it is usually made with soybean and canola oil, two types of vegetable oil heavy in Omega-6 fatty acids. These cause inflammation in the body and should be avoided. My husband swears he is going to try making his own mayo with olive oil. I'll be sure to report back to you.

2) Ketchup. This condiment contains sugar or corn syrup or both.

3) Bottled or prepared salad dressings. These often contain both soybean/canola oil AND some form of sugar and/or corn syrup. Tasty? Maybe. Healthy? Probably not.

4) Bread. Even the healthiest, whole grain, sprouted wheat, angel-kissed bread from heaven contains gluten. For some of us, this might not be an issue, but many people are finding wheat difficult to digest. It can cause leaky gut syndrome, bloating, gas, and other digestive disturbances. But the worst thing about every product made from grains is the excess calories. (Wink.)

5) Chips. I know! They are crunchy! And yummy! But most types of chips are addictive-- you can't eat just one or even one handful-- and those calories add up fast. My one exception: roasted plantain chips from Trader Joe's. I now eat HALF a serving, which is 10 chips, which has 35 calories. I'm going to try to wean myself off them and onto sliced fresh plantains fried in coconut oil. (Delicious!)

In general, if you can make a dressing or condiment yourself, chances are you will have a much healthier product. So try experimenting with making mayo or salad dressings. If you're busy, try this one I just discovered today: a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and 2 spoonfuls of salsa. This tasted great, was sugar-free, and was extremely quick to prepare. Just as easy as bottled dressing, but so much better for you. Other options: honey mustard dressing with a little honey, some mustard, and some olive oil. Or a hot bacon dressing made in a skillet with bacon fat (healthier than soybean oil!) red wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar (optional) and salt.

Once you become aware of how many calories you're eating, you will probably find yourself trying to save them for the foods that really matter. Don't skimp on the healthy food your body needs! But cut the junk and you will feel (and soon look!) so much better.

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